The Provence Wine Region

Wine Tours of Provence

Provence Wine Tours

• The region sits on the Mediterranean coast, ranging 220 kms from the Rhone delta in the west to the Cote d’Azur in the east, about 150 kms north to south.
• Wine has been made here for 2600 years making it the oldest wine-producing region in France.
• Diverse geography with numerous mountain ranges. Limestone to the west, more granitic in the east. Sunny Mediterranean climate (up to 3000 hours of sunshine per year) but with temperature moderation from the sea.
• Wines, of which the majority are rosé, influenced not only by the climate but also by wild, resinous shrubs such as thyme, lavender, juniper and rosemary known collectively as ‘garrigue’.
• Principal white varieties: grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne, clairette, bourboulenc. Principal red grapes : grenache noir, syrah, cinsault, mourvèdre, carignan, cabernet sauvignon.

And if you want to know more…
As you motor down the hills towards the bay of Marseille it’s evident you are entering a different country. Yes, you’re still in France, but this is a France with its eyes set to the sea, its nose wrinkling with the scent of wild herbs on the limestone cliffs, and its mouth watering with the promise of olive oil, garlic and the freshest seafood. And wine, naturally. The air has a spring in its step – well, more of a leisurely glide – and driving habits suddenly become, shall I say, swashbuckling. Welcome to provincia nostra, ‘our province’ as the Romans called it thus giving the area its modern name.

Provence has nine AOC areas, the principal ones being Cotes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en- Provence, Coteaux Varois en Provence, Bandol, and Cassis.

Cotes de Provence AOC is a large wine region in the east of Provence accounting for 75% of all wine production in the whole of Provence: about 80% of this is rosé. Quality varies, but the younger generation of winemakers are using new techniques such as oak barrels for fermentation and ageing and cooler temperatures for fermentation in their quest for higher standards and consistency.

Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AOC is the second largest AOC, in the west and northwest of Provence. As the name suggests, the area surrounds the beautiful city of Aix-en-Provence. Main production here is red (60%), then rosé (35%) and white (5%).

Coteaux Varois en Provence AOC covers the central region of Provence, between the above two. Production is 60% rosé, 33% red, and a small amount of white. The region is sheltered by the Sainte Baume mountains creating a unique terroir – the cooler climate means that harvest is normally a month or more after the rest of Provence.

Bandol is a small AOC just east of Marseille internationally renowned for its reds which make up 70% of production. Bandol is the only French red dominated by the mourvèdre grape (must be at least 50% of the blend), then grenache and cinsault. These reds will age at least 10 years and are characterised by their deep colour with aromas of black fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and leather.

Cassis is another small AOC also just east of Marseille, unique in Provence as its production is over 75% whites. The blend of some or all of clairette, marsanne, ugni blanc and sauvignon blanc produces dry whites with full body, low acidity and aromas of garrigue, the whole matching the local seafood like a dream.

Any wine visit to Provence would not be complete without time spent on stuff which isn’t just wine. By which I mean taking a while to explore the countryside, the quiet villages, the Roman remains – there’s a lot to be said for a day of going-with-the-flow. All things are possible with French Wine Tours.
Vineyards around Pont du Gard
Provence in France
Pont du Gard in Provence

Contact Me

For more information or to arrange your next tour with French Wine Tours, call John Sherwin on +33 (0)7 50 90 02 00
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